John Forsythe dies at 92
Starred as Blake Carrington on 'Dynasty'John Forsythe, who starred as the urbane Blake Carrington on the 1980s primetime soap "Dynasty" and provided the unseen voice of Charlie on "Charlie's Angels," has died. He was 92.
Forsythe died Thursday in Santa Ynez, Calif., of complications from pneumonia after a yearlong struggle with cancer. He owned a ranch in the area north of Santa Barbara.
With his smooth manner and silver mane, Forsythe exuded paternal power and iron-fisted control on ABC's "Dynasty" as a ruthless Denver oil magnate who dealt not only with the high-stakes vagaries of the oil business but with the even more volatile eruptions of his competitive womenfolk, embodied by Linda Evans' good-girl purity and Joan Collins' bad-girl sexuality.
For his portrayal of Carrington, Forsythe earned two Golden Globes and three Emmy nominations. So popular was the show that in 1985, Forsythe became the spokesperson for a line of men's cologne called "Carrington." He series ran from 1981-89.
Earlier in his career, Forsythe brought his debonair, fatherly manner to the role of a playboy Hollywood lawyer in the 1957-62 sitcom "Bachelor Father," which ran on CBS, NBC and ABC. His character, Bentley Gregg, was raising his orphaned niece Kelly while doing domestic battle with his comic Chinese cook and houseman.
Similarly, Forsythe portrayed a widowed American college professor raising three daughters in Italy in the 1969-71 CBS series "To Rome With Love."
Forsythe was born John Lincoln Freund on Jan. 29, 1918, in Penn's Grove, N.J. The son of a Wall Street businessman, Forsythe attended and graduated from the University of North Carolina, then defied his family's wishes by moving to New York to become an actor.
While making the rounds, Forsythe landed his first paying job as the ballpark announcer at Ebbets Field for the Brooklyn Dodgers. After the Dodgers deserted to Los Angeles, Forsythe lent his distinctively soothing voice to radio soap operas and performed in supporting roles on Broadway.
After serving in World War II for the Army Air Corps, Forsythe returned to New York and starred on Broadway in "Mr. Roberts," the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Teahouse of the August Moon" and Gore Vidal's "Weekend." He also helped found the Actors Studio after auditioning for Lee Strasberg.
While onstage, he was noticed and, following a screen test, signed by Warner Bros. and cast in his first movie, "Destination Tokyo" (1943), opposite Cary Grant.
In the early '50s, Forsythe acted in many of the early live television shows, including "Studio One," "Schlitz Playhouse of Stars," "Philco Playhouse" and several episodes of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents."
Hitchcock went on to cast Forsythe in the 1955 black comedy "The Trouble With Harry." Playing a sardonic character named Sam Marlowe, Forsythe delivered one of the more memorable verbal exchanges in cinematic lore. When a woman insisted that she was much younger than her supposed age, she offered to show him her birth certificate. Forsythe intoned: "You're going to have to show more than your birth certificate to convince a man of that."
After the filming, Hitchcock reportedly advised Forsythe that TV would best serve his handsome features, although the director later cast him again in his 1969 political thriller "Topaz."
Indeed, two years after "Harry," Forsythe hit career pay dirt with the title role in "Bachelor Father." He then got his own series, "The John Forsythe Show," before heading up "To Rome With Love."
Forsythe's next big career break came when he got a call from Aaron Spelling, who asked him to record the voice of a detective named Charles Townsend for a Spelling-Leonard Goldberg TV movie titled "Charlie's Angels." The show became a hit series, and Forsythe continued his voice work for "Angels" until its end in 1981. He also supplied his voice for the two "Charlie's Angels" films at the turn of the century.
Spelling's widow Candy Spelling said of Forsythe's passing, "We were so happy when he agreed to be the voice of 'Charlie,' and he always laughed about having to take a back seat to Farrah's hair. He was just such a lovely man, and the years we were able to work with him on 'Dynasty' were a second gift. Every minute we spent with John was pure joy."
Forsythe also continued to appear in movies. He co-starred in such features as Truman Capote's "In Cold Blood" (1967) and "And Justice for All" (1979). And he served as host of the syndicated nature series "World of Survival" for 14 years.
More recently, Forsythe narrated several documentaries, including "Arnold Palmer: Golf's Heart and Soul," provided voices for many animated children's projects for TV and video, and starred in numerous Hallmark Hall of Fame telefilms, including "Amelia Earhart," "Opposites Attract" and "On Fire," for which he also served as executive producer.
One of Forsythe's greatest passions was owning, breeding and racing thoroughbred horses, and he was vp of the Hollywood Park racetrack in Inglewood, Calif., for four years and a member of the board of directors for 11.
Forsythe was married three times, including a brief first marriage and then a long-term union that lasted 51 years with his second wife, Julie Warren, who died in 1994. In 2002, he wedded Nicole Carter at age 84.
In addition to his wife, survivors include his son and daughter-in-law, Dall and Ana Marie Forsythe; his two daughters, Page Courtemanche and Brooke Forsythe; grandchildren Deborah, Susanna, Raquel, Juliana, Alexandra and John; and five great-grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the American Cancer Society. There will be no public memorial service.